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41-year-old Marestella Sunang proves age is just a number with strong SEA Games finish

Euden Valdez - Philstar.com
41-year-old Marestella Sunang proves age is just a number with strong SEA Games finish
Proving that age is just a number, Marestella competed with athletes who are 10 years younger than her. And although she finished at sixth place, her record at 6.71m in Southeast Asia was unbeaten.
Screengrab from One Sports YouTube Channel

MANILA, Philippines — Marestella Sunang has surely come a long way from her humble hometown in Negros Oriental to becoming a three-time Olympian, and Southeast Asia’s long jump record holder.

Now 41 years of age, Marestella is ready to pass on the baton but not without a remarkable fight. Last May 16, she jumped one last time for gold at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Proving that age is just a number, she competed with athletes who are 10 years younger than her. And although she didn’t have a podium finish, her record at 6.71m in Southeast Asia was unbeaten. More notably, she remained a distinction as a competing mom and an inspiration as one of the oldest in competition.

“Sa totoo lang, kung papalarin mag-top 3 ay masaya na ako. Bonus na lang ang gold medal dahil alam ko na mag-dominate pa rin ang mga top long jumpers from Indonesia and Vietnam. They are 10 years younger than me, which was my age when I was at my peak,” Marestella said in an email interview with Philstar.com.

“Syempre pinaghahandaan ko din ito at bibigyan ko din sila ng magandang laban,” she confidently added.

Marestella had been training tirelessly in the past months, all the while fulfilling her mom duties to her now eight-year-old son.

“Malaki ang adjustment ko dahil merong special needs ang anak ko,” she opened up. “Masaya na mahirap bilang isang inang atleta."

Now 41 years of age, Marestella is ready to pass on the baton but not without a remarkable fight. Last May 16, she jumped one last time for gold at the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. 
Screengrab from One Sports YouTube Channel

But in the past, motherhood had cast doubts on the Pinay athlete. After her hiatus post-pregnancy, many feared she couldn’t make a comeback in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

She proved them all wrong by landing a podium finish at the qualifiers. Come main event, the Pinay mom athlete finished 28th among the world’s best long jumpers.

“Dati kapag magka-baby na, end na ng career. For me, hindi hadlang ang pagiging ina sa mga goal mo sa buhay. Sa katunayan gagawin mo siyang motivation para maabot ang mga hindi mo pa natatapos na pangarap,” she recounted.

“Noong nag-decide ako na bumalik sa sports, triple pa ang ginawa ko na pagpupursige sa training para lang maibalik ko ang nawala kong lakas. Kumbaga, iba na ang mind set ng isang ina. Kaya kung ano man ang edad mo or status mo, as long as my goal ka sa buhay magagawa mo iyon,” she added.

Proper nutrition also helped her gain the strength she lost, particularly Anlene, which provided her with the calcium she needed.

According to Marestella, she had been drinking Anlene since 1998 to keep her bones healthy and strong. In 2014, her coach James Lafferty reinforced the milk’s importance in her daily nutrition.

According to Marestella, she had been drinking Anlene since 1998 to keep her bones healthy and strong. In 2004, her coach James Lafferty reinforced the milk’s importance in her daily nutrition. This helped prolong her athletic career. 
Screengrab from One Sports YouTube Channel

“Anlene has always been with me since the start of my athletic career. I can’t live without it already! I’m used to drinking it in the morning and before bedtime. It helps me sleep well and makes me feel well-rested in the morning, ready to train again,” she said. “Minsan ginagawa ko na rin siyang food alternative lalo on my diet.”

Marestella also noted that Anlene also keeps her flexible. “Ang alam lang natin dati, ang milk is for calcium but now marami ng nutrition na naibibigay ang Anlene.”

A milk drink made for adults, Anlene helps to strengthen not just the bones but also joints and muscles. It has 2x more calcium vs. regular milk for bones and is high in both protein for muscles and collagen for joints.

“I can really say Anlene prolonged my athletic career,” Marestella said.

Now that she moves on to the next chapter, Marestella plans to keep drinking Anlene especially as she coaches the next generation of Filipino long jumpers.

“Coaching is my next plan as two athletes have expressed interest in training under my wing. I’m so excited to train them because who knows, they may be the ones to break my record,” Marestella shared.

“My message to the new generation of Filipino athletes is, don't give up. Whatever obstacles you face, just continue with your goals and you’re bound to achieve them. Always remember, nothing is instant,” she said.

Her legacy cemented, Marestella will always serve as an inspiration for everyone to keep moving despite life’s hurdles and losses.

“Manalo matalo, tuloy ang buhay. Parte lang ng buhay ang sports. I still have my family who’s waiting for me and who always gives me inspiration most especially my only son,” the Pinay mom athlete ended.

ANLENE

MARESTELLA TORRES

MARESTELLA TORRES-SUNANG

SEA GAMES

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